‘Above beyond’

GREENFIELD — The first knock at the door came five minutes after midnight. It was Jack and Sue Goff, carrying a check for about $4,000 for the Hancock County Food Pantry.

The Goffs, representing Christ Fellowship Church in Greenfield, were the first to visit the Hancock County Community Foundation Friday to make a contribution to Match Day.

The 24-hour donation drive is expected to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit a dozen area nonprofits. Those donations are boosted by contributions from two matching pools, one from the community foundation and another from the Lilly Endowment.

The last Match Day, conducted in 2012, raised more than $200,000. The Goffs certainly got the ball rolling for the 2015 campaign, said Mary Gibble, the community foundation’s president.

“That was a nice way to kick off Match Day,” she said.

During the course of 24 hours on Match Day, any contributions made to the participating nonprofits are increased by a proportional contribution from the foundation and a 50-cents-on-the-dollar match — up to $7,500 for each nonprofit — from the Lilly Endowment.

The community foundation will divide its $80,000 matching pool among the organizations based on the percentage each brought in of the Match Day fundraising total.

By 5 p.m. Friday — with seven hours left to go in the drive — more than $153,963 had been donated to benefit area nonprofits.

The first Match Day event brought in $200,000, which was then increased by $33,000 from the community foundation.

The organizations benefiting from Match Day are: Bradley United Methodist Church, Families United for Support and Encouragement, Greenfield Parks and Recreation, Hancock County 4-H Agricultural Association, Hancock County Food Pantry, Hancock County Public Library, Hancock County Senior Services, Hancock Hope House, Leaders in Navigating Knowledge, Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC), Nameless Creek Youth Camp and Sugar Creek Township Park.

Match Day money will be divided between supporting the nonprofits’ long-term sustainability and meeting their immediate needs, community foundation officers said.

Having two matching pools makes this year’s fundraiser more interesting, Gibble said, and it will help the benefiting organizations make a bigger impact on the communities they serve.

“There has been a lot of excitement and a lot of positive vibes coming our way,” Gibble said. “We’re expecting big things.”

More than 90 volunteers, many of whom represent the nonprofits that Match Day benefits, were scheduled to work throughout the day, helping donors navigate the contribution process and slipping in last-minute pitches for their organizations.

With a sticker indicating he was a board member from Leaders in Navigating Knowledge, or LINK, Lance Ratliff greeted donors at the community foundation’s door with a bright smile. He walked them inside and directed them to one of three donation stations or helped them to fill out checks at the foundation’s curbside donation post.

Karen Lee of Greenfield divided her dollars among the four Match Day beneficiaries she visits most often: Bradley United Methodist Church, the Hancock County Public Library, Greenfield Parks and Recreation and Nameless Creek Youth Camp.

“I’m hoping this will help make our community bigger and better,” Lee said.

Matthew Anderson said his son’s involvement with 4-H prompted him to donate money to the Hancock County 4-H Agricultural Association, which supports the popular youth program. He said he wanted to see the association expand its offerings and attract more children to get involved.

Nonprofit leaders all come to Match Day with a different plan for how they hope to use the donated dollars.

Jim Peters, director of Love INC, said he is hoping Match Day dollars will help expand the group’s offerings. For many years, Love INC, which oversees a network of churches that provide resources to families in need, has divided donations between charity and operational costs. With further funding, the nonprofit can more fully focus on bringing assistance needy families, Peters said.

“When we were founded 10 years ago, it was more up to the churches to provide our operational funds,” Peters said. “So, we’re hoping to build our endowment fund (with the community foundation) so we can reduce our reliance on the church.”

A host of events and activities were planned throughout the day to keep donors engaged and giving, including free performances, food and a mini carnival for children.

Donations were expected to pour in throughout the evening, making for a long but exciting day for community foundation officers and volunteers.

The foundation’s staff started working about 11 p.m. Thursday to put the finishing touches on the Match Day setup, Gibble said. They took naps from 2 to 5 a.m., and air mattresses were set up in Gibble’s office for when more breaks were needed.

Gibble had a goal for the event Friday in her mind but was keeping that dollar amount to herself, saying any money raised would go a long way to better Hancock County.

“Any contribution from the community is going to be phenomenal,” Gibble said. “… Knowing this community, they will give that and beyond.”

Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.